Sunday, April 12, 2009

Resurrection Sunday

This weekend we made an impromptu trip up to visit DH's parents. We had a great time, but came back late last night in order to make it to church this morning.  Having recently made the decision to commit to this church, we wanted to spend Easter morning there.

The church sits on a tract of land adjacent to a lazy, brown river. Every Easter they have an early morning service under the canopy of palm fronds, oak leaves and Spanish moss dripping from the branches overhead, swaying in the breeze off the river.  It was beautiful.

As I sat listening to the pastor reading from John and delivering his Easter message, I pondered all the themes I've been thinking about and which have begun to solidify within me over the last few months. 

I thought of the sermon that I always want to hear preached each Easter, but never seem to get. Some speakers get closer than others, but few have managed to mark Easter as the joyful occasion it should be.

And what is this Missing sermon?

Life.  New Creation. Transformation.  Hope.

These are the legacies of The Resurrection.

Jesus was not only our savior and redeemer, but our life-giver, the new pattern for those who believe.  God was not content to leave the world as it was.  He was not content to let so many perish in their sins.  He was not satisfied to allow all that He had made crumble under the weight of evil that man has wrought upon the earth.

Mankind, as wretched as it can be and often is, was too valuable to Him.

During Jesus' ministry, many of the miracles he performed were directly tied to regeneration and to sustaining life. Blind eyes were made to see.  Deformed limbs were made whole. Leprosy was healed. The dead were raised. God's creative, life-giving power was being poured out through Jesus as a testimony to his authority.  

Ultimately,  The Resurrection is a reminder that all life comes from God.  Not only does all life come from God, but it pleases Him to create and sustain life. 
Death and destruction are the antithesis of God. The consequences of our sin, and the evil we perpetrate upon the world, are actions that lead to death.  Though God's judgment is a very real thing, his love and desire for life has overcome it, for he takes no pleasure in death, and has no satisfaction in condemnation:
As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live.  Ezekiel 33:11
His promise is eternal life; life uninterrupted by sin, evil, sickness, and death. He is remaking us.  He is transforming us.  Jesus' death and Resurrection has reoriented us away from death and destruction and toward God making us part of the new creation He is bringing to pass.

One day the seed of our faith will reap the fruit of God's promise. We will "be like him[Jesus]".  

The God of all that is, the only eternal Spirit with no beginning and no end, draws us to Himself.

Just as Jairus' daughter and Lazarus lay "sleeping" in the clasp of death, waiting only for Jesus to reawaken them, so we will one day wait for that voice to call us up out of death and into eternal life. 

That's good news worth sharing.

1 Corinthians 15

1Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

 3For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

 9For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.11Whether, then, it was I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

The Resurrection of the Dead
 12But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.15More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.

 20But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.21For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.22For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27For he "has put everything under his feet." Now when it says that "everything" has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.

 29Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? 30And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? 31I die every day—I mean that, brothers—just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord. 32If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus for merely human reasons, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, 
   "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." 33Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character." 34Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.

The Resurrection Body
 35But someone may ask, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?"36How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. 39All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 40There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. 41The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.

 42So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
      If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. 48As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.

 50I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory."  55"Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" 56The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.


Anonymous said...

Happy Easter. I miss the big family gatherings we had when I was a kid. My kids will never know that, unfortunately. Now everybody is all over the world, dead and/or wintering in Fla.

I see you piled a little on that obnoxious Carr guy at McGrath's site. I was a bit sarcastic with him, I have a tendency to do that on the Internet when people don't engage with others, and they just keep repeating themselves.


terri said...

I like the use of the phrase "dead and/or wintering in Florida." They are so often close to the same thing.


Yes...I piled on Steven, though I'm not upset about him so much as I find him amusing. His comments read more like parody instead of coherent arguments.

Sometimes I can be a smart-a$$.

Anonymous said...

Since you seem to live in Florida, I was hoping you wouldn't take offense. I would expect that there are a lot of people who are alive but not quite living in Florida. (To be fair, there are people like that in the northeast as well.)

There are things to look forward to at retirement, but potlucks at the senior center instead of family holidays isn't one of them.

I think some of these posters like Carr are college kids and they tend to be more adamant. I was when I was that age. Sometimes I feel silly even engaging unknown people. But it is hard to find normal people who like to talk about such subjects.


Retriever said...

Thanks for this post. Lots in it that I wish I had heard at Easter this year, and didn't, so very appreciative! I especially liked this:

"His promise is eternal life; life uninterrupted by sin, evil, sickness, and death. He is remaking us. He is transforming us. Jesus' death and Resurrection has reoriented us away from death and destruction and toward God making us part of the new creation He is bringing to pass."

I like your reminder that after Jesus' ministry as the Great Physician (amongst other activities during his earthly life) his ongoing healing of our sin-sickness goes on.

Because my own besetting weakness is to stop at the Crucifixion. To stay stuck on the God who loved us so much He died for us. The Resurrection often seems to me, in dark moods, something of a pale fairy tale--something I do believe in, but don't feel to my bones the way I feel His identification with our sufferings.

Buz said...

Been studying John in the recent past. John 1 starts with "in the beginning was the word ..." then you get to John 3, "For God so loved the world ..." suddenly something struck me squarely in the face. In the beginning, before God ever said, "let there be light" he KNEW that when he started the ball rolling, it would mean that at point X he was going to have to live here, take all the crap that he did, and finally die a horrible death. Before he ever said, "let there be light" he could have just has easily said forget it; it is too much to go through. He didn't have to answer to anyone. No one was there to egg him on. But, he did it anyway. He said it, "let there be light" ... because if he hadn't we wouldn't be here. He not only loved us enough to suffer that death when things went horribly wrong and he had to do it to save us, he loved us enough to created us, even thought he knew that we would screw it up horribly, and he would have to come and die for us.

"Amazing love, how can it be, that thou my God wouldst die for me."